According to Port City Daily, 21-year-old Haley Swanson has been living with dermatomyositis for 10 years.
She was diagnosed at age 11 with the autoimmune condition, which means that her body basically attacks its own cells. It weakens her muscles, produces skin rashes, and can cause inflammation which affects the heart, lungs, and digestive track. There is no cure, but Haley receives treatment which can minimize the effects of the illness.
In some ways, Haley is lucky because she received her dermatomyositis diagnosis just six months after she began to exhibit symptoms. For most, this wait is much longer, and the longer the illness is left untreated, the worse it becomes.
Haley receives IV infusions every two weeks in two, five hour periods. That means for 10 hours every two weeks she can’t move away from her IV pole. Despite this, she graduated high school and stayed active. She attended Brunswick Community College after graduation in order to become a pharmacy technician. She received her degree and was hired immediately at Walgreens.
She truly hasn’t let her dermatomyositis hold her back.
That being said, she does have to take precautions.
She avoids sunlight because the heat can exacerbate skin rashes and muscle weakness in her legs. If she does enter the sunlight she has to wear sunscreen that has an SPF of 50 or higher in order to protect herself. However, she’s in a career that doesn’t require much time outside and she’s loving what she gets to do.
Though Haley’s life may not have followed the traditional path that she thought it was going to, she has thrived.
Because dermatomyositis is so rare, she had to face many different treatments before she found one that was effective.
Drugs caused her to gain weight and posed many other challenges. But perseverance was the name of the game for Haley, and while her current treatment option is by no means perfect, she remains positive and lighthearted about the future.
You can read more of Haley’s story on Port City Daily by clicking here!